Nebraska (8-2, 1-1 Big Ten) dropped Creighton (6-3) Saturday, 94-75, for a wire-to-wire victory. Here are three takes from another game that will serve as a bullet point on Nebraska’s resume come NCAA Tournament time.
Nebraska Wanted it More
The last time the Huskers beat Creighton, President Barack Obama was still in his first term in office; a 59-54 win in 2010 was the last time the Huskers beat their rival. Which means no, head coach Tim Miles had not beaten Creighton heading into Saturday’s game.
And you could tell.
Going through warmups, Nebraska had a look in its eye. Guard James Palmer Jr. had this air of confidence to him, like he knew the magnitude of the upcoming 40 minutes but it wasn’t weighing him down. He danced around in the locker room early afternoon. He bounced around during shootaround.
Then when the game opened, Palmer started throwing haymakers.
A guy shooting 23 percent from deep on the season opened the game with three straight triples over Creighton defenders. Pinnacle Bank Arena was already as loud as its ever been, but Palmer’s start blew the roof off the building. Miles getting into a jawing match with CU coach Greg McDermott midway through the first half (more on that momentarily) only bumped the intensity up a notch.
When Palmer picked up his second personal foul and sat down with 12:57 to play in the first half, Nebraska went the opposite direction of what you’d expect — a 19-4 run.
Sophomore guard Thomas Allen Jr. had the game of his Husker career, scoring 18 points with strong takes to the hoop, confident finishes amongst the trees and timely 3s. Isaiah Roby went for 14 points, eight boards and four assists.
Palmer led the way with 30 points and was completely unguardable. He got to the free throw line, knocked down mid-range jumpers and didn’t turn it over.
Everyone was locked in defensively, too, as usual. For stretches, Creighton was the team that couldn’t seem to hit a shot. The Huskers outshot the Jays, America’s best shooting team, 53 percent to 43.
And this happened. Time and time again.
Nebraska played like a team that knew it was better. But it also played like a team that was sick and tired of coming up on the short end against the guys up north.
Angry Tim is the Best Tim
Sometimes, the best thing a coach can do is fight for his players. Sometimes you will gladly take a technical foul. Sometimes you ask for it.
Miles has taken slack, criticism, calls for his job, you name it. The mob was especially loud after Wednesday’s loss to Minnesota. But I think he deserves some love for what he did early Saturday. With 13:52 to play in the first half and Creighton at the free throw line down 16-10, Miles and McDermott each earned technicals.
Even after referee intervention, Miles and McDermott were jawing at each other across the scorer’s table. Miles stood his ground, McDermott backed off and Nebraska responded with a 21-6 run.
For long stretches, Nebraska fought harder. Whether that was a direct result of Miles’ energy, I don’t know; we’ll have to ask them. But from that point on, Nebraska wasn’t going to be out-muscled.
Miles set that tone.
Who’s Really the Better Shooter?
Nebraska picked a hell of a time to turn into 3-point snipers.
Creighton entered Saturday’s game shooting 45.8 percent from deep, the second-best mark in basketball. Nebraska was at 33.5 percent. . . a little bit south of Creighton on the leaderboard.
So Nebraska hitting 14 of its 27 triples had to come as a shock, right? Especially when the guy who has struggled the most this year in Palmer goes 6-for-7 from distance.
Nebraska generated clean, open looks on the vast majority of them. Palmer and guard Gylnn Watson Jr. hit some tough ones over defenders, but a lot of the looks came from ball movement and sound offense.
Creighton did its damage from deep — Mitch Ballock had 23 points thanks to a career-high seven made 3s — but Nebraska rendered the shooting pretty ineffective because Creighton wasn’t making up any ground with its offense, it was simply exchanging buckets. Nebraska was hitting at the other end.
For the game, the Huskers outshot Creighton from deep by 11 percentage points, 52-41.
Raise your hand if you saw that coming.
Creighton sure didn’t.
What a win as nonconference play winds down. The Huskers will get a week off before trying to keep the momentum going against Oklahoma State next Sunday, Dec. 16, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.